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Experiences More Satisfying Than Possessions

March 2009 - Research from San Francisco State University presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology has found that purchasing experiences rather than possessions results in increased well-being for consumers and others around them. The study concludes that this is because purchases of this type address higher order needs such as the need for social connectedness.

Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology said:

"These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being."

Participants asked to write reflections and answer questions about recent purchases reported that those involving experiences represented better value and greater happiness for both themselves and others regardless of income or the amount involved. They also resulted in longer-term satisfaction.

Ryan Howell explained:

"Purchased experiences provide memory capital. We don't tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object. People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though 35 years of research has suggested the opposite. Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences."

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